#DaHipLife Ep. 9 – Adina [Editorial]

Posted on July 21, 2015 by


For episode 9, Da-What is featuring the first singer in the #DaHipLife series. Adina’s big breakthrough came when she won the 3rd season of a popular show in Ghana called “Stars of the Future”.  Her road since has not been completely smooth but she has emerged in 2015 with a new degree and surrounded by a dedicated team with her best interests at heart. She is heavily involved in the fashion scene now and making some great music! Check out what the Liberian/Ghanaian songstress had to say about her career to date, her family background and more in #DaHipLife.

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Hi, I’m Adina Thembi. My main goal is to be able to reach people with my music. Change people with my music. Really speak to the hearts of people. I mean what is music if it can’t speak to people? That’s my ultimate goal.  I would love to go very far. I don’t want to just do music in Ghana. I want to be recognized for it.   

My dad was South African, I was born in Liberia and my mom is Ghanaian.  We moved to Ghana during the [Liberian] Civil War, my mom and I and my big Sister.  So I don’t really have any, I mean I know a little about Liberian culture because I grew up amongst Liberians somehow, Liberians and Ghanaians. So the cultural influence that I’ll say I have is from Liberia and Ghana, Ghana mostly. I don’t really know much about South African culture so I can’t say that it has influenced my music because I haven’t really been there.

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When I was born, my dad predicted that I was going to be a singer. That I would be called Adina, I would be a singer and that I would sing all over the world. I started singing since I was little.  I started singing before I realized what my dad said.  My mom realized that what my dad said was now coming to fruition but I started singing before I found that out. But it was pretty interesting too.

My first music related memory is when my mom was teaching me the alto parts of songs. We grew up in a Methodist Church and we always sang hymns at home. And I would always wonder how people were able to sing the other parts, other than the regular soprano and treble. And my mom taught me. That was my first memory; I was really young back then.   Since then I’ve picked up all of the other parts.  I started singing in Church and it gave me a lot of practice. It helped me to get used to my audience, to know what to do when I’m on stage.  It isn’t exactly the same but somehow, it helped.

I took part in the third edition of Charter Houses’ “Stars of the Future”. I was 17 going on 18 and I emerged then.  What did I learn from the experience? I pretty much learned how to put myself together. I mean I had been singing in church and schools and other platforms that I found myself in, other places that I had the chance to sing at, but “Stars of the Future” gave me the training, it helped me.   It basically trained me to know my way around the live band and it also helped me with the crowd because there were constantly a lot of people in the auditorium cheering me on. So it taught me a few things about stage presence, basically knowing how to handle a live band – you know instrumentals and how to handle all of that. 

The year that I won “Stars of the Future” was the year I was supposed to enter university. I had just completed senior high. So it was hectic. I had to find a way to balance the music and academics. In the beginning, the first few years, I was doing a few performances here and there but as the years went by I realized it was getting more intense and I had to focus on my education. I did a couple of but it wasn’t as focused as it would have been if I wasn’t in school. I did a little balance but I didn’t really do as much of music when I was in school. The first few years yes but as I moved on I just put music on hold to finish and then after school I resumed.

If you are well educated and you’re a musician as well, it gives you more, it widens your scope, gives you other opportunities in life.  It allows you to do other things.  I feel like if you’re a musician, and you are fortunate, lucky enough, you are privileged to get educated, you get a balance.  As an artist, I also feel like if you are educated, it helps you to understand what you are doing better. You just need to know. I mean, also world knowledge you can get that without a formal education yes but if you get a formal education, it makes you more accessible to world knowledge.

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I mean for me, record label in the traditional sense doesn’t exist. So I have a group of people that assist me to achieve my goals. So I have the people that do my bookings, I have my stylist, I have my song writers, I have photographers, I have my beat makers. You know just different people that I go to.  I mean we’re basically a team because we work towards achieving the goals that I need to achieve.

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So one of my bios on social media says that I am a “reluctant model” but it’s a bit confusing because somehow, I am a model.  For fashion, I do the design thing for Afro.Mods. It goes back to my team, the group of people that I put together, because they are working different angles for my brand.  They came to me with this offer and somehow because I’d always wanted to be a model but I didn’t want to pursue it because I knew music was bigger. So it was almost in my favor because I’m like okay, “I might as well just do it”.

I am a brand ambassador for Afro.Mods.Trends. It is a fashion line in Ghana. It stated in 2012 after I released my first single for this current project and my management got approached by the team from Afro.Mods.Trends.  They needed someone to help build the brand and at the time I also needed to affiliate myself with good fashion brands and so that helped me.  It was more like, we both came together to help each other out.  We had one goal and that was to grow. So as I grew, Afro.Mods grew. If Afro.Mods grew, I grew. So we worked hand in hand.  Basically, I model for them, their beautiful designs and I recently got the chance to be on the runway as part of a fashion week and I was the main model, the main outfit. And it was quite nice because I always wanted to be a model when I was growing up because I thought I had the physique but then I had music which was bigger than modeling.  So it was nice when I got approached by these people and they needed somebody to be a model and wear their stuff. So I give props “you’ve done a great job” and we’ve been working for over two nears now.

“Let Me Go”  talks about a girl, a person, that is trying to break through or trying to make it. And obviously they have obstacles, things stopping them.  And they’re trying to say “let me go, I really need to make this breakthrough. So let me go”.  And some part of “Let Me Go”, it was a story about a relationship .  So “Goodbye” is like saying “I’m done. I’ve left. So bye”. From the song “Let Me Go” being set free means being yourself, finding that inner self and being able to do whatever it is that you set your mind to.  You know. Just developing those wings and flying as high as you can. Being liberated. It has so many sides to it.

For me? Yes, I would say that I am free. Interesting enough, I was trying to break free when I sang that song but now I think I am free. It took a while.  Just singing that song didn’t make me free but now I am. Now I know what I’m doing. I feel like I can just do anything.  I don’t have anything stopping me. No fear. Nothing.

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Special Thanks to Commodore Guest House in Abelempke for hosting the Interview!!

Camera Work: Simon Asamoah & Benjamin Cohn

Editor: Kwame Ohene

Logo: David Addo